We are a gourmand couple who love to discover new places and eat our hearts out. Follow us for a guilt trip along the food road.
Aamshotto dudhey pheli, tahatey kodoli doli,
Shondesh makhia dia tatey
Hapush-hupush shobdo, charidik nistobdho,
Pnipra knadia jae paate…
Translation: Sun-dried ripe mango is dropped in milk, banana is squashed in it, and shondesh (sweet) is smashed in this. The sound of slushing echoes in the silence. Even ants return, shedding tears into the empty plate.
These were the first lines Rabindranath Tagore, had composed. Interestingly, his first lines as a child were about food. It can be assumed that as a child, he had developed the taste to appreciate good food. The above lines, for instance, talk about a palatable Bengali breakfast.
Rabindranath Tagore grew up in the Jorasanko Thakurbari, where there was the prevalence of a distinct culture. While speaking about Bengali culture, it is not possible to omit the subject of food. Like all Bengalis, the Tagores, too, were great fans of food. Like other aspect in the Thakurbari, their food, too, was perfect fusion of Indian and western influences. While lunch was served with the family-members sitting on the mat spread on the floor and was eaten with bare hands, dinner was served at the dining table, British style. The Tagores, all compulsive travelers picked up recipes from far and wide. Dishes like British pie and Turkish kebab were as conventional in the Thakur household as Bhapa Ilish (steamed Hilsa) or roasted mutton cooked with pineapples.
Being overly satisfied with our experiences before Iti invited us to try their Thakur Bari Maha Bhoj- Jorasanko Cuisine Carnival which comprised of a variety of delicacies that have been cooked and enjoyed till date. The 4th edition of this food carnival shows its popularity felt till date.
What was served to us through the evening was a mix of vegetarian delicacies which were ala carte and the non vegetarian was the set menu of the food carnival.
The evening started with ‘Nimki’ and ‘Kancha Aamer Shorbot’ (raw mango roasted on flame and juiced). There was no better and refreshing way to start our evening.
‘Macher Chop’ or the katla fish fritter was the best one could have asked for. Crispy brown on the outside and soft and melt in the mouth on the inside served with fresh kasundi ( mustard sauce) and tomato sauce. Literally no one can eat just one.
We then moved to the main course.
* ‘Kathaler Luchi’ ( jack-fruit puri) was a dish par excellence and a very unusually made one. The juice of the ripe jack fruit was extracted and mixed with the flour to make the dough for the puris. This was a little sweet but perfect to go with any spicy side dish.
‘Thakurbarir Pathar Mangsho’ ( Tagore household styled mutton preparation) – like we mentioned the mildly sweet Luchi would go well with a spicy side and this was exactly what was suited best, and tasted like they were made for each other. The soft mutton was spicy yet comfortable to the palate.
Another great side to the luchi/puri was the * ‘Katlar Alu Dom’ (katla fish aaloo gravy). This was a semi gravy dish. Slightly spicy but the pieces of fish and potato was an absolute delight to dunk the puris into.
For the vegetarian from the ala carte menu was the ‘Aaloo foolkopi rassa’. Just like the non veg option this vegetarian delight was a spicy mix of cauliflower and potato in a onion tomato pungent gravy. Too good with the luchi.
A Bengali meal is never complete without a bhaja (deep or shallow fried veggies). What we had in store for us was the traditional begun bhaja ( egg plant fries). These are marinated with spiced and fried with mustard oil. It is this mustard oil which gives it a classic Bengali touch.
We were busy downing food at such a rate that it took us quiet a while to realize how Bengali we Non-Bengali’s felt here. The aroma of fish and mustard oil, the chats of fellow foodies in the tables around us and most importantly the Bengali music which kept us company through this gastronomical journey.
Coming back to what we are best at -EATING, we were served plain rice for our next course of meal.
* ‘Narkel Diye Dal’ is plain simple dal but what makes it a step above all are the tiny bits of fried coconut. This dal when mixed with rice gives a great mixed taste of the soft dal and the crunchy coconut.
* “Shukto’ a mix of veggies like potato, flat beans, bitter gourd, raw banana is considered a comfort food.This came in a gravy different from all the others. Unique but nice.
Alu posto a part of every Bengali meal was a tad bit on the bland side. A little spice or a little green chilly effect could have enhanced the taste.
* ‘Bhetki Kopir Dab Malai’ was the show stealer of the evening. Here the Bhetki fish is half steamed and along with the cauliflower it is cooked in a mild coconut, poppy, mustard paste along with coconut water. It is then poured into the coconut husk and re-steamed. This is the celebrity dish and it is for this people come from from far off. This is best had with steamed rice and this is how we had it.
As recommended by the owner Mr.Purnendu Bose , the chef rustled up a special dish, which was pure vegetarian. A dish par excellence and never had or thought of before. The ‘Mochar Paturi’. This was a dish made of banana flower cooked and sandwiched between layer of poppy seed, cashew, mustard and coconut paste. This is then carefully wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. Too little can be spoken of this master piece and it is something one must feel the love for.
Another special request was the plain simple omelette curry. Not too spicy but comforting, not too thick but a little watery. A perfect relief to all the rich delicacies consumed so far. This was tempered with the bare minimum but was high on taste.
As our food journey was coming to end one can never forget the famous trio aamer chutney, rasgullas and mishti Doi. The aamer chutney was a sweet & salt, sour & spicy mix of raw mangoes in a gravy. Both the rasgulla and mishti Doi were prepared in their own kitchen and dint need much of an explanation as they were perfect and just how each should exactly be.
Our meal came to an end with the ‘Paan Shots’ , the need of the hour to help aid digestion for the variety and the quantity we had consumed.
We left with a full stomach and promising ourselves that we shall we visiting soon by creating cuisine carnivals on our own and definitely coming to try their famous ‘Nolen Gurer Ice cream’ or jaggery ice cream.
Follow our food journey: